Monday, January 29, 2024

HOLLYWOOD by Conner Coyne


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Connor Coyne

Genre: LGBTQ+, Literary, Magical Realism
Publisher: Lethe Press
Date of Publication: Feb. 3, 2024
ISBN: 9781590215944
Number of pages: 97
Word Count: About 24,000
Cover Artist: Inkspiral

Tagline: A new American myth for readers who enjoy a bit of madness in their weird fiction.

Book Description: 

Anxious Ophelia steps off the elevated train in the big city, hoping to start a new life with her summer hookup, far from her dissolving family and all of the traumas of industrial Rockville. 

Over the course of the next few hours Ophelia will lose her roommate, her money, and eventually, her sense of sanity when she sees a mile-long shark out on the lake, unwitnessed by anyone else, but obviously there, because if it wasn't how did she get so soaked? 

Ophelia cannot go back to who she was before sighting the beast, and the friends and opportunities she discovers all proceed from what and how she acts on that first, fierce, drunken night.


One August afternoon, in the midst of the hottest years ever recorded, with the nation crashing through wars, the stock market climbing like Icarus toward the sun, and the City funneling its poor people inland as it closed and demolished the last of the projects, Ophelia got off the Red Line elevated train at the Thorndale stop, squinted in the sunlight, and kicked her foot against the platform to free a stone from her sandal.

“Home at last?” she asked herself.

She certainly hoped so. There was so much here, and all of it everywhere: dozens of dark smears from murdered bubble-gum on each sidewalk square, hundreds of quartz-bright sidewalk squares lassoing each block, and thousands of glowing, sweltering blocks throughout the City with its millions of people.

To the west, between the tracks and Broadway, Ophelia made out a video store, a laundromat, and an internet cafĂ©, all noisy with activity at four in the afternoon. To the east, between the tracks and the lake, she saw a canyon of tenement apartments—mostly brick, fronted with stoic windows, several stories high—going out for three blocks before the real high rises rose from the beach, blue and white and glass and concrete, almost unimaginably tall. Their heights arrowed sunlight back toward Ophelia, hitting her from all sides. And here, too, she saw people coming and going in the glow of late summer.

“Please,” she said. “Let this be my home.”

But who was going to answer her? Not the smartly dressed Black men talking in low voices, laughing softly, leaning out over the tracks to look for the next train. Not the old Polish woman in the headscarf murmuring her rosary to herself. Not the train attendant patrolling the platform. Or the sun, the steel high-rises, the brick tenements, the video store, or the laundromat.
Since nobody would answer Ophelia, she descended the stairs, passed through the station, and went out into the City.

* * * * *

Five minutes later, Ophelia stood in the lobby of her new apartment building, buzzing for the super to come down and give her the keys. The building stood near the corner of Kenmore and Ardmore, just one block from Sheridan Road and the lake. At eight stories high, it was the tallest of its neighbors, though still dwarfed by the towers just a block away. A white stucco lobby. Moll carpet. Plastic plants standing in shell-shaped alcoves cut into the wall. Nothing fancy, but with a breeze coursing down the hall from an open fire escape, Ophelia’s new home felt luxurious.

The super arrived and eyed her new tenant suspiciously. Ophelia wasn’t tall, but she was so skinny, especially about her face, that it created an illusion of height. When she looked in the mirror, her prominent cheekbones reminded her sometimes of a skull and sometimes of a praying mantis. Ophelia was white, pale even, with fine brown hair that wisped gently about her shoulders. She generally considered herself a fairly okay-looking person, whatever her other defects might be. Still, she knew wrinkles and exhaustion were about the corners of her eyes. Anyone could see this. Everyone noticed. She was only in her early 20s but seldom got carded for alcohol.

The super frowned but must have decided Ophelia was harmless because the woman hit the button in the wall, and the elevator dinged in reply. The super pulled open the accordion gate, and as they rose through the building, Ophelia watched each floor sinking out of view. She tried to ignore the stench of stale piss. They got off at the seventh door. The woman fumbled with the keys, swearing under her breath in some Slavic language, and opened the door to Ophelia’s apartment.

She’d seen Tasia’s pictures, but they didn’t do justice to the place. The hallway opened into a long white living room with a white carpet and a bay window looking out to the east. Slivers of blue water peeked in from between the lakeside towers. An arch to the left led into a slender kitchen, all Formica and old appliances, while another hall exited the back of the living room, passing the first bedroom and the bathroom and ending at a second bedroom with plenty of closets and built-in shelves along the way. Ophelia spotted a cockroach crawling across the stovetop and another in the back bedroom. Still, there was something so happy and fierce about the light and the skylike linearity of the lake that hope welled up in her chest anyway. This was fine. No, glorious! She’d deal with the roaches later. Maybe after Tasia arrived.

As Ophelia carried out her inspection, the super stood in the living room with her hands on her hips, waiting, but there wasn’t much else for Ophelia to do: everything had already been settled.

Several months ago, she had told Tasia that she was going to off herself before the end of summer if she didn’t get out of Rockville. “Let’s move to the City,” Tasia had said. “Get jobs. Get a cheap apartment. Hit the beach. Hit the good stuff.” The joke came up several times before the friends realized that they took the idea seriously. Even though Tasia’d gotten her Associates from the community college, she seemed stuck in dead-end cashier’s jobs and was dying of boredom. Rockville was killing her slowly.

And killing me quickly, Ophelia thought. She’d only been half kidding about surviving the summer. So, before she knew it, the two were creating profiles on, Googling neighborhoods, and emailing old friends from high school who had moved to the City. Tasia drove out one weekend, picked up some job applications, toured the apartment on Kenmore, and signed the lease. She’d gotten in on a special promo: no security deposit required. Ophelia had faxed her signature. They were in.
But if Tasia had set the whole thing up, she also needed another week to tie up the last loose ends at Spencer’s Gifts. “My manager got caught stealing inventory,” she’d said. “They want to promote me. I haven’t broken the news to them yet.” So, Tasia stayed behind while Ophelia went ahead with her sleeping bag and a backpack full of cleaning supplies. To get the new place ready. To make it homey.

Ophelia thought back to the 4th of July weekend when she’d lain in Tasia’s bed with Tasia on top of her and Rockville’s fireworks bursting out the windows. The taste of shandy on Tasia’s lips and her sturdy weight pressed down. How all the wretchedness and sorrow of all those years had collapsed that one drunken night. So ... were they friends now? Roommates? Lovers? Friends-with-benefits? With all the planning for their big move, this was one thing they hadn’t discussed. Ophelia wasn’t sure if it complicated things or simplified them.

“Okay?” asked the super.

“Thanks,” said Ophelia. “It’s wonderful.”


As if on cue, a dull thudding sound—four-to-the-floor with the bass bass bass—started thrumming down from the apartment overhead. The eighth-floor penthouse.

“Uhhhhh,” groaned the super. “They never stop.”

She let herself out, leaving Ophelia with the music.

* * * * *

It took Ophelia only a short time to unpack. She chose the second bedroom, near the back. It didn’t have a view of the lake, but it got more sun, and she could see the long sweep of high-rises following the shore and rising toward their downtown crescendo. Since she didn’t have a dresser or bed, Ophelia stacked her clothes in neat piles along the wall, unrolled her sleeping bag in the middle of the floor, and crushed a cockroach with her shoe before it could scurry for cover. Then, with the music still thudding overhead, she shouldered her backpack and left the building.

Ophelia found a supermarket just past the Thorndale stop on the other side of the tracks and spent the next half-hour in a reverie, pushing a shopping cart up and down each aisle and wondering what the next month held in store. I could apply to be a cashier here, she thought. I could apply to be a teller at that bank across the street. I wonder if I could apply to work for the El trains. I’ll need to make money somewhere! She didn’t worry a whole lot about what she did or didn’t need to buy. She had a crisp hundred in her wallet—a parting gift from her grandpa and some keychain pepper spray—but this was just the first of many shopping trips. Right now, she just needed to make it through the next week. She bought some Bisquick, some eggs, and milk. Instant coffee. Bananas and apples. Bread and peanut butter. A dollar box of cookies. A six-pack of cheap beer. Paper plates and plastic forks. A tall can of Raid. A small pillow. It ate up half of her money, but it was enough. She was halfway home before realizing she had nothing to cook the pancakes in or boil water for coffee. I can go back tomorrow, she thought. The peanut butter and beer will keep me going for tonight.

When Ophelia made it back, the sun was lower in the sky, and shadows covered the streets below. The thudding upstairs continued. She set her keys and phone on the counter, massaged her sore arms, and noticed that she’d missed a call from Tasia.

“Tasia?” she said when her friend answered.

Tasia gasped. “I didn’t think you’d call back so quick!” she said.

“Why wouldn’t I call back quick? I was carrying groceries. What’s up?”

“I’m bursting! I’m bursting! I can’t lie! I can’t come to the City with you!”


“I was going to turn down the manager job, O, but that was before they made the offer. I didn’t know it came with such a huge raise. They’re gonna pay me twelve an hour. That’s, like, twice what I make now! No way I will get a job in the City that pays that much. And you know how expensive it is there ... have you seen the gas prices yet?! We didn’t think this through, O. I can’t move now. It would be crazy. I mean, it would be fucking stupid. I mean, I’m gonna get fucking health care!”

“Slow down, Taze. We have been planning this for months!”

“I know, I know, I’m so sorry, it was my mistake too. It was just a dream, you know? It was a silly dream. A summer thing.”

“But our names are on the lease!”

“No security deposit, remember? So, we’re out that first month, but I’ll make that up in like a month. Maybe two. Point is, I’ll make it up quick! You could get out. It was my fuckup. I signed the lease. We just walk away. Hey, I’m the manager here now. I can hire you. Think how fun that’ll be. We can work at the mall together. Lunch at the food court. You know you love them burritos!”

Ophelia’s heart was sinking. It was already in the basement laundry room, and maybe it wouldn’t settle until it reached the bottom of the lake.

“I don’t know, Taze,” she said. “I was ... I was really excited about this. For us. I ... went shopping.”

“Oh, shit. How much money do you spend on us, O? It’s okay, I can pay you back. Now I’m, like, rolling in money! Compared to what I have been. You’ll come back to Rockville, right?”

Ophelia looked helplessly out the window. A seagull sailed down the street, caught between cool breezes from the lake and the warmer currents wafting off the brick buildings.
“I don’t know, Taze. I don’t know anything right now. You shocked me. I mean, you surprised me.” She took another long pause. “I have to think about it.”

“I understand. I’m sooo sorry to just drop this. But I’d be crazy not to, you know?”

“I know. I get it.”

“Call me when you make up your mind. I’d love to hook you up.”

Would you love to hook up?! Ophelia cried out in her brain. What does this mean? What did that mean? What does anything mean?

“I will,” she said. “I’ll call you soon.”

“Hey, nothing else, we’re paid up through the end of September. Take a vacation in the City before you come back!”

* * * * *

It wasn’t anything, Ophelia thought. It couldn’t have been much. She was drunk, and I guess I was desperate.

Am desperate.

Ophelia went into the kitchen and took another look at the food she had bought. She probably had enough money left over for a pot and a pan, but she wasn’t sure that would leave enough for public transit, and if she wanted to get a job, she’d need some train fare. She decided that she could boil water for coffee in a pan, leaving her enough to take the train downtown for a week. That’s ridiculous, she thought. Who lives like this? If I go back home, I’ve got a sure thing at the mall. I can go back to Grandpa and Grandma’s. Maybe save up. Maybe try again in a year. Or two. Maybe Tasia and I get a thing going ... if she wasn’t just drunk. If she really meant it. A car on the street below started honking. The honking continued, and Ophelia realized the driver was waiting for someone to come out of another apartment. She was drunk. She didn’t mean it. There’s no way I can stay here, and there’s nothing for me to go back to there, either.

Between the thudding bass and the car honking, Ophelia was starting to get a headache.

She wanted to bang against the ceiling with a broom but didn’t have one. She opened a beer with the bathroom towel bar, using the trick her brother had taught her. She shotgunned the beer, then had a second and a third, and then she was halfway done, so she went to the bathroom for a pee and drank the rest of the beers on the toilet. By then, she was getting dizzy, but at least drunkenness was a temporary relief. The honking had finally stopped, but the bass thudded on.

Ophelia went into her bedroom and shut the door, thinking it might muffle the sound, but it didn’t. An elevated train of alcohol slammed into her skull. She giggled sadly and reeled. Ophelia knew she was just as drunk as she’d been when she’d tumbled into bed with Tasia, but she was all alone this time. The walls and windows swirled around her, the bile danced in her stomach, and her ears popped like fireworks.

“Shut up!” Ophelia said and fell asleep.

About the Author:

Connor Coyne (he/him) is a writer living and working in Flint, Michigan.

Connor has published several novels and a short story collection, and his work has been featured in, Belt Magazine, and elsewhere. He is the director of the Flint-based Gothic Funk Press and is facilitator for the Gloria Coles Flint Public Library‘s writing workshops.

Connor is a graduate of the University of Chicago and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the New School. Today, he lives with his wife and two daughters in Flint’s College Cultural Neighborhood (aka the East Village), less than a mile from the house where he grew up.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024



Supernatural Central Short and Quick Interview

  1. Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.

There are two protagonists in Her Name Was Lola, so I’ll say a little about both here. Lola wants to be heard, seen, and taken seriously. Ever since their mother died, her overprotective older brother and her father have made a point of shielding her from life. They’ve set her on a prescribed path. People pleaser that she is, Lola doesn’t want to disappoint them when grief already permeates the family. So, she does as she’s told for the most part. Her escape is fairy tales—the original ones full of darkness as well as light. She’s certain that life rewards good behavior. But, she’s determined to learn how to “adult” before she graduates college. She isn’t quite sure how to do that, but she’s determined to fall in love, stop attending keg parties, and lose her virginity—not necessarily in that order. No matter what, she’s “through being the princess in everybody’s tower.”

Vance wants people to respect him and for his life to be stable. His parents abandoned him and his older sister when he was barely a teenager. He knows what poverty is like—being refused by homeless shelters because you’re sick, living out of a car, and so on. His escape has always been fairy tales. Unlike Lola, who has internalized them, Vance looks for order and reason in them. Back when their lives were anything but stable, Ingrid took care of him, often allowing herself to go hungry or overwork herself so he would stay in school. To this day, he’s riddled with shame. He’s convinced that he’s a drain on everybody and not worth loving. As an adult, he’s determined not to become emotionally attached to anyone or let anyone invest much in himself. A professor of literature, his life consists of one-night stands, working out, and doing research. All that matters to him is tenure at the college so that his job is secure. Then his sister wouldn’t have to worry about him ever again, and no one would have to know about the empty shell that’s become his personal identity.

  1. Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?

Not so much. I’m really a skeptic. But, I’m open to being proven wrong.

  1. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?

My third contemporary romance is in its early stages (the first draft isn’t done yet). But, I’m toying with a few different tropes: age-gap trope where the woman is older, forced proximity, enemies-to-lovers, and celebrity romance. I have some idea of where I’m going with it, but my most carefully laid-out plans almost always change!

Her Name Was Lola
Karen Janowsky

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Date of Publication: 12/22/23
ISBN:  978-1-4874-4027-5
Number of pages: 300 
Word Count: 8,859
Cover Artist: Martine Jardin

Tagline: Sometimes you have to lose your heart to gain your dream.

Book Description:

Lover of fairy tales Lola Nelsson learned at an early age that darker truths lay behind their bright facades. At twenty-two, she still hopes for her fairy tale to come true before she graduates college. But she hasn’t met her prince yet and she doesn’t know how to navigate the real world. Then a handsome man at a conference catches her eye. She’s sure he’s out of her league, but tries to get his attention anyway. And she’s successful… until she isn’t.

Only one thing matters to Professor Vance Anderson—gaining tenure. Known as Dr. Casanova on campus, he’s a true love ‘em and leave ’em kind of guy. For now though, he’s sworn off the distraction of women. When he spots a beauty of a different sort at a conference, he can’t stop thinking about her.  But when she accepts his invitation to his room, his insecurities kick in. Everything goes well… until it doesn’t.

The night ends disastrously, and it’s all over. Until Lola and Vance wind up in a working relationship, making it impossible to avoid one another. The situation can only end in one of two ways. They’ll either end up madly in love or they’ll want to kill each other. Before they can discover their real feelings, they need to learn to trust themselves. Only time will tell if their fairy tale is sweet or dark.

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From behind Lola, a pleasant, male alto voice said, “Hi, I’m Vance.”

She turned around and found her five-foot-four self face-to-solid-chest with GQ. Taking a step backward and sure she’d turned pale, she looked up at him. The peeling name badge on his lapel said, M. Vance, but his last name was hidden by a shadow. “Oh, hi. I’m Lola.”

Vance held a shot glass in each hand. He was smiling, lips pulled back a little too much, as if he was unsure of himself. “Your friend told me I was being very obvious about staring at you and to go introduce myself. She said to give you this.” He handed her a whiskey.

His eyes were the color of freshly mown grass with silver flecks of dew at sunrise. When they locked on hers, her hands began to sweat, making the glass slip through her palm when she took it from him.

She grabbed it with the other hand at the last second. “Oh. Okay.”

He clinked his glass against hers, downed the shot, then smiled at her again. His upper lip had a minutely askew cherub’s bow.

Knocking hers back as well, Lola did her best not to react to the five-alarm fire scorching through her esophagus. She was reasonably sure smoke was about to billow from her nose and ears. Then that warm, melty feeling crept in.

Okay, Naomi. Here goes. “To be honest, I was watching you too.”

“Were you now?” He arched his eyebrows.

Silently thanking Naomi, Lola asked, “So, are you a visiting speaker?”

“I’m attending. I teach at Jewett College. You?”

“I’m at Jewett also. Library science department.” Hopefully he wouldn’t ask what she did there.

She’d tell him the rest later…if they hit it off.

His fingers lingered over hers as he took the drink glass from her hand. “Another?”

One was her usual limit, and balancing on heels after two was inadvisable. “Yes, please.” She let him guide her through the crowd surrounding the bar.

He offered her an empty barstool and stood next to it as he waved at the bartender. “How long have you been at the college? I don’t recognize you.” He lowered his eyes and raised them to her again, offering an uncertain smile as he smoothed his hand over his thigh.

Looking down, she noticed her topped-off glass. “I’m going into my fourth year.” Lola swirled her fresh drink and watched the amber liquid make slow, wavy circles. She saw a chip in her pale pink nail polish and fought the urge to tuck it into her palm. “What about you? Where do you work?”

“In the English Department.”

GQ—or probably Dr. GQ—Vance—shivered a little when he slid his hand toward hers until their fingertips were millimeters apart. A tiny static spark jumped between them and they both chuckled.

Lola drank half of the shot. “What do you teach?”

“Comparative and European literature. My specialty is fairy tales.”

“I’ve been obsessed with fairy tales—the real ones, not the kids’ ones—for as long as I can remember.”

Vance leaned against the bar. “Same.”

A new song began, and they listened as he played with his tie for a few moments. “After watching you in action, I’m not sure I can keep up, but feel like a dance?”

Lola blinked then nodded. The rest of the room bobbed slightly with her head. She slid off the stool, and he rested his hand on the small of her back as they wound through the crowd. Heat radiated through the thin fabric of her dress.

He took her hand in his. They were about five paces from the dance floor when a man caught her shoulder, causing her and Vance to stumble backward.

“You’re not gonna pass by without a hello, are you?” The tall, thin man had brown roots and blond tips. His hand was sweaty and his words slurred.

Vance looked at her. “Do you know him?”

Sobering, she shook her head, grateful that the world didn’t move with it.

The man sidled closer and squeezed her shoulder more tightly.

Letting go of her hand, Vance took a step toward him.

Lola tugged her shoulder away and pulled a hair stick from her updo. Stepping closer, she waved the tapered end at the stranger.

He gasped and stepped backward, letting go of her shoulder.

“Leave me alone.” She kept her voice as quiet and stern as she could.

The man muttered, “Slut,” as he retreated.

Lola replaced the stick through what was left of her updo.

Vance licked along his teeth. “You’re already full of surprises.”

The night’s cool dampness draped around the crowded dance floor, covering them like an airy shawl as they found their way to an open space.

“Remind me never, ever to upset you.” He spread his fingers over her mid-back and held her hand to his chest. His heart beat against her palm as he held it there, his hand cool and dry.

They looked at each other and smiled.  He said “ever.” As in future tense. As in "long term." I should probably let him know I’m a student now. That could wait a few minutes more.

She inhaled a mix of tangerines, leather, and something else—ginger, maybe—that she could almost taste as his scent hovered between them. She moved closer, and their hips touched.

There was an unmistakable twitch against her. She was sure it was a trick of the lights that made him appear to blush.

This might happen.

He took a half-step back, face pink against the white lights that  outlined him. She imagined using her finger as a silver gel pen around his jaw, under his cheekbones, and across his forehead, illuminating his face. He brought his hand farther down her back.

She raised her voice over the music. “So, what’s your favorite fairy tale?”

He lowered his head closer to hers. Their mouths were centimeters from each other. “What?”

She asked again.

He said something.

She tilted her head up. “Didn’t catch that.”

Chuckling, he leaned in until his mouth was close to her ear. Cupping it, he repeated,

“It’s hard to talk here. Do you want to go somewhere quieter?” The whiskey on his breath had mellowed to spiced caramel, and his voice melted through her.

The imaginary talking mice scampering under her skin morphed into butterflies. “Okay.”

Holding her hand, Vance led her into the lobby. Her heart thumped like a scared rabbit’s as he threaded his fingers between hers. She glanced toward the quieter, emptier bar, but he kept going straight toward the elevator bank.

“Grimm, Andersen, or Perrault?” Vance winked.

Lola bit her lip and released it. “Why do you ask?”

Vance seemed to stare at her mouth. Narrowing his eyes, he stopped and gave her a closed-mouthed smile. “Good to know whether you’re into physical pain, mental torture, or happy endings.”

“What?” Lola froze as her jaw dropped.

Vance tilted his head back and laughed. “I’m kidding.” He headed toward the elevators again, but Lola couldn’t move. He stumbled back. “I’m harmless. I promise.”

She glanced around the vast lobby, checking for security officers.

“I didn’t mean to upset or scare you.” Leaning in, he lifted the back of her hand to his lips, then smiled that same smile that had dissolved her into a puddle the first time she’d laid eyes on him.

“All right.”

He led her into an empty elevator.

This is happening.

Inside, he let go of her hand and took a step back. “Is it okay to go up to my room? I should’ve asked first.” He gave that earlier, uncertain smile, revealing a tiny dimple in his right cheek and lighter green bands surrounding his irises.

“That sounds perfect, Vance.” Lola’s mouth and throat went dry as he hit the button for the eleventh floor. For the first time in her life, she was going to say, “Yes.”

About the Author:

Karen wanted to be an author and/or Wonder Woman when she grew up. One of those jobs was already taken, though. She lives with her husband, son, and six cats in Maryland, where she works as an English professor. Karen received her MA in literature and creative writing from Florida State University. When she isn't writing, she can often be found sitting at a friend's dining room table drinking wine and playing RPGs, hanging out at the local Indian restaurant with her bestie, or curled up in bed with a few cats, listening to the rain and either reading a book or watching a BBC mystery.

Website and blog:

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Supernatural Central Short and Quick Interview

  1. Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.

Well, I do not think that I have a main character in my book.  It is a nonfiction historical narrative, centered around the ritual of toasting.  However, I can say that the person who received the most toasts between 1775 through 1815 would have to be George Washington.  He was honored in life, but especially in death.  I rarely found any toast list that did not include some type of sentiment to him.

I would like to mention that if there was another character of note who received toasts, it would be Aaron Burr.  He was the recipient of some incredibly harsh and negative toasts from many, especially after he shot and killed Alexander Hamilton.

  1. Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?

I cannot say for sure if I believe in the paranormal.  However, I do feel at times that someone is watching over me from another realm.  Let me explain:

My father died suddenly several years ago.  He was relatively young, and his passing has left an unfillable hole in my life and that of my extended family.  But there have been at least two times that I have felt his presence.  The first was when I was delivering newspapers late at night in a residential complex.  I walked by this one unit and thought that I heard someone calling for help.  I was in a bit of a hurry, so I pretty much ignored it.  I got in the car and headed to my next stop.  The strange thing was that I could not get the thought out of my head that I had to go back and check.  This thought was almost coming across as a shout in my mind., and it would not stop.  I went back and discovered a woman had fallen out of her bed and could not get up.  I called 911 and stayed with her until the paramedics arrived.  I know that my father was the one shouting in my mind.

The second time was similar.  This time it was a rainy night, and I was heading home from work.  I saw that there had been a minor car accident at this crazy intersection, and a family was standing outside their disabled car.  They had obviously been involved with the crash.  It was two kids and their parents.  I drove by and sure enough, that thought of going back was shouting in my head.  So, I actually said, “Okay Dad, I will go back.”  I returned to the crash site and gave the family my umbrella, since they were outside in the rain getting wet.  I just walked over and gave it to them and said that they really needed it.  They looked at me with big smiles on their faces and thanked me.  I think that my father wants to make sure that I continue to do things that he would have done.

  1. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?

I am thinking about writing a second-part to my book.  This time I will research the toasts of the nation between 1816 and 1865, covering the Civil War.  The working title of the book right now is Another Round:  Toasts of a Divided Nation, 1816-1865.

“Huzza!”  Toasting a New Nation, 1760-1815
Timothy Symington

Genre:  Nonfiction/History
Publisher:  McFarland Books
Date of Publication:  September 29, 2023
ISBN: 978-1-4766-9315-6 Print
ISBN: 978-1-4766-5056-2 ebook
Number of pages: 273
Word Count: 125,000. 

Tagline: Drinking toasts to the American Revolution and beyond!

Book Description:

During the early years of the United States, toasts captured popular sentiments regarding people and events.  Sometimes they were used to spread national ideology and partisan political views.  They could even be “weaponized” against political opponents, such as during the bitter election between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1800.  “Huzza!”  Toasting a New Nation, 1760-1815 is a retelling of the familiar historical narrative, but toasts are used to tell the story of the events and people between the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

     Israel Putnam of Connecticut, who led the rebels at Bunker Hill in June, was one of the first to be singled out for honors when the war began. The Connecticut Gazette printed toasts from a July 25 dinner in London attended by the Freeholders of Middlesex. General Putnam was toasted “and all those American Heroes, who, like men, nobly prefer death to slavery and chains.” Sons of Liberty leader Dr. Joseph Warren, who was killed on the battlefield, received the following toast from the Field Officers of the Sixth Brigade in Cambridge: “Immortal Honor to that Patriot and Hero Doctor Joseph Warren, and the Brave American troops, who fought the Battle of Charlestown on the 17th of June 1775.” This list of toasts, appearing in the August 21, 1775, issue of the Boston Gazette, or Country Journal started with a toast to the Continental Congress instead of to the British monarch. The officers raised their glasses instead to all the colonies, the Stamp Act riots, Lexington and Concord, and an end to the “present unhappy Disputes.” Dr. Warren would be a consistently toasted figure into the early 1800s.
     George Washington replaced George III as the main recipient of toasts, becoming the most toasted individual in the new nation. The King was now the enemy. Even English supporters of colonial rights, such as John Wilkes and Edmund Burke, were replaced by American military heroes. English support for the rights of the colonists, however, had not disappeared. The Virginia Gazette printed toasts the London Association made in October 1775. Association members wished for “axes and halters, at public expence, to all those who attempt to trample on the liberties of their fellow subjects, either in Great Britain or America,” and that “kings remember that they were made for their subjects, and not their subjects for them.”
     The former British corset-maker Thomas Paine brilliantly explained why the colonists should no longer rely on the King to protect their liberties. His pamphlet, Common Sense, demanded that Americans free themselves of Britain’s control. Paine wrote that “One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an Ass for a Lion.” His words reached everyone in the colonies, and so he and his work were toasted: “May the INDEPENDENT principles of COMMON SENSE be confirmed throughout the United Colonies.”
     Most colonies had already taken Paine’s advice to heart and declared themselves to be independent states. Members of the Virginia convention calling for a resolution for national independence gave toasts in May: “The American independent states” and “The Grand Congress of the United States, and their respected legislatures.” Washington attended a feast at the Queen’s Head Tavern in New York City, where toasts were given to the Continental Congress and the American army, and to the memory of General Richard Montgomery, killed in the disastrous invasion of Quebec in December 1775. The final toast was “to ‘Civil and religious liberty to all mankind’—mankind, that is, except Tories.” Tories, the conservative supporters of the Crown, received extra abuse in the Patriots’ toasts: “Sore Eyes to all Tories, and a Chestnut Burr for an Eye Stone.”

About the Author:

Timothy Symington received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Saint Anselm College and his Master of Arts degree in American History from Adams State University.  A former educator, he now contributes to the Journal of the American Revolution.  “Huzza!”  Toasting a New Nation, 1760-1815 is his first book.

Monday, January 15, 2024



Supernatural Central Short and Quick Interview.


-About HB Comstock – HB (Henry) Comstock was a troubled young adult when he was involved in a car accident. He was the only person who survived, but he came away feeling like someone else until he met another man who had the same sort of ‘out of body’ experience. And that is how he discovered soul-walk-ins. Of course, that is not how the doctors describe what happened to him. To them, he has head trauma. And it’s with this new being, he discovers he has feelings for the adult education teacher, Alison. HB is harboring a secret that will blow their lives wide open.

-Do I believe in paranormal and if so, do you have experience you can share? I’ve come to believe in the paranormal bit by bit after meeting with a spiritualist who has helped me in many aspects of my life. Because of her, I now listen to the buzzing and random thoughts that pop into my head. I believe these are my spiritual angels helping and guiding me in my writing. I’ve also experienced a light touch on my hair when I was in a near-car accident, almost like someone was giving me a pat on the head to comfort me.

-I’m writing another walk-in soul book that begins during the Russian Revolution. I wanted to do something different involving the Russian Princesses who were murdered along with their parents. I’m having a blast researching the revolution, prohibition, and the Depression. 

Walk-Ins Welcome
Sue C Dugan

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date of Publication: May 24, 2023
Number of pages:336
Word Count: 73,299
Cover Artist: Kim Mendoza
Tagline: True love repeats itself in unexpected ways
Book Description: 

Adult education teacher, Alison Larkin has a second chance at love after her husband is killed in a car accident. Her new love interest comes in the form of a 20-year old student called HB, whose reputation as a bad boy and poor student has everyone questioning her attraction to him. Alison finds him to be nothing like his reputation as a drug-dealer and trouble maker. 

Although HB has few high school credits to his name, he is flying through the coursework in adult education. Alison learns she and HB share a memory of a dramatic rescue at a local amusement park. 

HB has a secret he has yet to discover, but when he does, he must convince Alison to give him another chance at love.

Amazon     BN     Goodreads


She put the flowers on the coffee table and moved her hand toward the sofa. He sat, and she did too. “Didn’t you have something you want to talk to me about?”
Momentarily, he couldn’t remember what it was.

“Did you forget?” She gave him an encouraging smile. “So much has happened. It seems like ages ago.”

Then it came rushing back to him—Dr. Sims—the things he remembered and the yearbook pictures. He sat with his hands clasped and his head down, thinking. Was now the time to tell her? He jerked his head up. “I’m not sure this is a good time to tell you what I know.”

She frowned. “That sounds serious.”

“It is and a bit weird too.”

She leaned forward and clasped her hands together. “Why don’t you tell me, and I’ll decide how serious it is.”

HB shifted on the couch, trying to find a comfortable position. Finding none, he straightened and looked at her. “You know I felt like a different person when I came out of my coma?”

Alison nodded but remained quiet.

“And I wrote about the rescue at Cedar Springs?”

She remained stock still.

“I started adding one plus one, and I came up with something bizarre out there.”

Clearing her throat, Alison finally said, “You’re scaring me.”

He noisily let out his breath. “I’ve been seeing a counselor, and he told me about one of his patients, Ashton.” HB paused and rearranged his thoughts. “I talked to Ashton, who told me he had tried to kill himself but failed.”

“Oh, no!” Alison cried. “Please don’t tell me you want to kill yourself!” She leaned forward and tried to grasp his hand.

“No, I want to live again!” He let her touch his fingers before pulling back. Although contemplating suicide might be easier than telling Alison he was her dead husband—Robert.

“Anyway,” HB swallowed, “Ashton told me about soul walk-ins.”

“What did you say?” Alison asked, alarm creasing her brow. “Wait!” She jumped up and hurried down the hallway while he waited. He moved his forefinger over his thumb, wondering what would make her leave like that.

She returned with a small book, sat, and clutched it to her chest as if protecting it. Then, slowly, she eased the book onto her lap and opened it.

He murmured the title. “Communicating with the Dead… So you believe in that?”

“I don’t know what I believe. But this book mentions walk-in souls and—”

“I think I have Robert’s soul in my body,” he exclaimed before he could change his mind.

HB didn’t mean to interrupt her, but it just happened. He couldn’t help it. He watched as

Alison’s eyes rolled back, and she slumped over.

“Alison?” He patted her hand and then her cheeks until her eyes fluttered open.
            “How…” She looked confused. “Why? What?” She fell back on the couch. “I don’t believe it,” she said with a shake of her head, and her features turned stony. “I think you should leave.”
            “What?” HB cried. “No! No. I’m sorry!” Tears immediately filled his eyes. “I knew it was a bad time.”
            “What a cruel and mean joke to play on me after what I’ve gone through!” Her eyes flashed with anger, something he couldn’t pinpoint.
            “I’ll let myself out.” He jumped up. He’d blown it with Alison, and she didn’t want to believe him. And he might not have a chance to convince her.

About the Author 

Sue writes five-star LitPick novels that keep readers of all ages turning pages long into the night. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, attending author events, or walking her dogs. She’s has two children and five grandchildren. Snack wise, Sue is a salty-type gal, but wouldn’t say no to an occasional chocolate kiss or two! She isn’t sure she’s a reincarnated novelist, but if she was, she’d want to be Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, or Emily BrontĂ«. When her novels are run through author comparison sites, she gets Anne Rice through Mark Twain—quite a wide spread which makes for interesting reading (Tom Sawyer was a Vampire?). 


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